I was talking to a colleague who project manages distance learning for a UK Education company. It was just after the Egyptian uprising and he commented that even during the turmoil Cairo University was still communicating with them about the courses.
Then he mentioned that they had just started a similar project in Bahrein. To his surprise I told him it was just kicking off there as well that very day and I asked if they had any other new contracts in the Middle East. A coincidence maybe but hardly cause and effect you would think. But on the other hand if you think about it more deeply, providing education more widely in countries run by authoritarian leaders might well encourage people to start asking questions.
Next my sister decided to make a trip of the lifetime visiting family in New Zealand. As she arrived the earth quake hit but fortunately she was in the North Island. Then she headed for Japan and arrived as the Tsunami struck. Again she was well out of the way in Osaka. Now I’m not suggesting she has special powers to create those disasters but I half-wondered if she might be heading back over Iceland or Hawaii. Again surely just a coincidence.
And then my colleague and I in Lithuania made a first time trip to Siauliai in the north of the country. After an initial meeting at the university and some lunch we set off to a different campus to deliver a workshop. We never made it. Our car was involved in a near head-on collision with a 50 ton truck full of sand. Fortunately the police and paramedics were quickly on the scene to get us to the hospital. After emergency treatment, X-rays and brain scans (relief that our brains still there) my colleague and I had badly bruised arms and ribs and scalp lacerations from the glass. After further head surgery we were allowed home. Very professional treatment by the hospital staff and great support from the university who had only met us for an hour earlier that day. Our driver and university guide weren’t physically hurt but badly shocked.
The TV crews were there at the crash site and their reports went out in the evening. With everything else going on in the world it was embarrassing when people asked us what happened to us (head bandage and black eyes were a bit of a giveaway) and when we told them they said they’d seen it on TV.
But back to the title. Chaos theory says that very small changes at the start of a process can be multiplied through the system.Which is why it is hard to predict weather more than week ahead with any accuracy. It’s said that “a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo can cause a hurricane in Colorado”. And some mystics believe that everything is connected no matter how insignificant it may appear.
Who knows what conditions changed that day in Siauliai that allowed us to walk away from what the police said was a potentially fatal road accident? Our colleagues in Lithuania have a saying: “Man plans, God jokes”